Welcome back to the latest edition of our Reliever Ranks series! This will bring you up-to-date bullpen depth charts every morning for the day’s games and makes for an excellent tool for those looking to stream saves or wins. This series runs seven days a week, so check in every morning to get your daily bullpen fix!
Transaction and Schedule Notes
- All fifteen teams were in action on both Saturday and Sunday and the season’s first Monday is also one of the few that features no off days for any team.
- The Giants recalled Sean Hjelle from AAA. He will be used out of the bullpen for now.
CHW 6 – HOU 3
- For the second time in this series, Reynaldo López was preparing to enter the 9th in a save situation. The White Sox ended up adding two insurance runs, so no save was awarded, but it’s another piece of evidence to say that López is the primary save share for the White Sox for now. The stuff was amazing, but control was again a problem and it took him 37 pitches to get through the inning. If he keeps performing like that, Kendall Graveman and Aaron Bummer will be more than willing to take over the next save chance.
- Phil Maton and Seth Martinez each went a pair of innings in relief for Houston. I don’t expect either to play much of a role in most fantasy leagues.
TOR 4 – STL 9
- The Blue Jays used the back of their bullpen including a couple of innings from Trevor Richards to limp through the game after a disastrous start from Chris Bassitt. Richards had a pretty impressive spring striking out nineteen in 9.2 IPs and his changeup continued to look like a dominant whiff pitch here generating seven swinging strikes on 22 offerings. He could be an interesting arm to monitor.
- The Cardinals developed a big lead early and used their long reliever, Packy Naughton, to get the final seven outs of the game. He likely won’t be in line for many holds unless there is a major string of injuries.
MIL 9 – CHC 5
- Milwaukee had used their big three relievers on Saturday and they had a big enough lead to avoid using them again on Sunday. Hoby Milner seems to be the team’s BLOOP (Best Lefty Out Of the Pen), so he’ll likely get a decent amount of holds chances, but the rest of the relievers used here are middle innings and depth guys for now.
- It’s exciting to see Julian Merryweather back in games at the MLB level, but he clearly has a lot to go to match the potential we saw on Opening Day 2021. Adbert Alzolay showed increased velocity on all of his pitches and worked two clean innings with three strikeouts. It was only six appearances, but he was dominant out of the bullpen in 2022 and could be in line for saves later in the year if Michael Fulmer falters and Jeremiah Estrada doesn’t progress as hoped.
PHI 1 – TEX 2
- After a rough Phillies debut, Gregory Soto had his slider working on Sunday to the tune of six whiffs on eleven offerings. He has the stuff to compete for saves in this pen, but the consistency might not be there to work his way past the rest of the talented arms.
- It was Texas’ first save chance of the year and it went to Will Smith instead of Jose Leclerc. Smith hadn’t worked yet this season and, with the use of Darick Hall to pinch hit, he faced two lefties in his three at-bats, so there are some good reasons why Texas would want to get Smith in at that point in the game. I don’t see it as a sign that Smith is the guy or even that LeClerc isn’t the top option. I just see it as a confirmation that LeClerc’s ceiling is likely getting around 60-70% of save opportunities and that the Rangers will play matchups a bit.
ATL 1 – WSN 4
- Michael Tonkin made his first MLB appearance since 2017 and retired seven straight batters to clean up after Jared Shuster’s slightly shortened start. I see an OK sinker/slider combination here, but I’m not hugely impressed by his spring numbers this year or AAA numbers last year. I’m not sure if he’s more than an innings eater when starters can’t go as long as expected.
- Hunter Harvey was brought on for a key situation in the 6th to earn a hold and Kyle Finnegan needed just eight pitches to record his first save of the season. Even though Harvey was used in the 6th here, his skills are the best in this bullpen and that is why he’s currently playing the fireman role. I see him as most likely to take over the 9th if Finnegan is injured, traded, or ineffective.
SFG 0 – NYY 6
- Sean Hjelle made his season debut and allowed three runs on three walks in two innings. He had a really impressive spring and almost made this team outright. While this wasn’t a great outing, his 6’11 stature and deep 12-6 style curve provide an interesting foundation for a two-three inning guy.
- Ron Marinaccio got four clean outs, three on strikes, to record his first hold of the season. The Yankees then extended their lead and used Colten Brewer for the final two innings. Marinaccio established himself as a key piece of this bullpen last year and should continue to remain in the top 3 options for holds on any given night.
LAA 6 – OAK 0
- Carlos Estévez finally made his season debut in a non-save situation and came out nearly two ticks slower than last year and gave up a walk and a hit in a scoreless inning. I wasn’t impressed by Estevez in the spring and I continue to not be impressed by him here. If you must chase saves in this group, Jimmy Herget is the guy I’d go after right now, but I believe the most talented reliever in this organization is currently in AAA (Ben Joyce).
- The A’s used long man Adrian Martinez to finish the game given their six-run deficit. Martinez struggled as a starter last year, so he’s got quite a few things left to prove before he’s someone we chase for win vultures.
BAL 5 – BOS 9
- After throwing sixteen pitches on Saturday, Mike Baumann was allowed to throw 43 pitches to finish the game on Sunday. He did have some starts at the end of last year, but it’s still a bit surprising to see him stretched out so much this early in the season in a mostly lost game. It makes me think Baumann might not be a part of the team’s long-term plans.
- It was a close game through the middle innings which allowed John Schreiber and Chris Martin to each pick up their first holds of the season. Kenley Jansen was lined up for a save chance, but the offense added an extra insurance run in the bottom of the 8th. Martin represents a solid option for holds or as a handcuff for Jansen.
PIT 1 – CIN 3
- Wil Crowe continued his trend in usage from the end of the year last year and worked two scoreless innings. The team seems comfortable with him going multiple innings, but his skills don’t seem tangibly changed, so he’s likely still not extremely interesting for holds.
- Alexis Díaz needed just nine pitches to retire the side in order and record his first save. The good news is that it was weak contact and a very clean save, but the bad news is that his five fastballs were down 1.9 mph from last year and located mostly around the middle of the plate. I still personally think Diaz is a major cherry bomb risk.
DET 1 – TBR 5
- Alex Lange made his season debut in the 7th inning of a game where the Tigers were down four runs. This was likely a scheduled appearance to get him some work early in the year rather than an indication that he isn’t fully in possession of the closer job. He did only generate one whiff in nineteen offerings, so that is worth monitoring in his next appearance.
- Jalen Beeks and Ryan Thompson also made their season debuts in this game, but neither were awarded holds with the four-run lead. The Rays expect all members of their bullpen to perform in a variety of situations, so don’t be surprised if Beeks gets a few saves against lineups the team believes are vulnerable to lefties.
MIN 7 – KCR 4
- The Twins were up 6-1 by the middle of the 6th, but they still decided to use Jorge López for the third straight game (with one rest day on Friday). It tells me that the team is likely not concerned at all about Jhoan Duran “sleeping funny” and that Duran might be a little further ahead in the competition for saves than many think.
- Scott Barlow made his season debut and delivered a scoreless inning, but his fastball came in 2.4 ticks slower than last year and he generated no swinging strikes in thirteen pitches. Dylan Coleman was also 2.7 ticks slower than last year on his fastball, his second straight outing around that velocity, and struggled in his second outing of the year. I consider Barlow to be quite likely to be traded this year, but if Coleman stays at that velocity, it’s very unclear if you’d want to stash anyone from the organization in anticipation of second-half saves.
NYM 5 – MIA 1
- The Mets had used four key relievers on Saturday and they took advantage of their multiple-run lead they held throughout the game to get them rest and use their depth guys to finish out the game. None of them are particularly interesting for right now.
- Matt Barnes came to Miami to compete in the 9th inning and I don’t see this version of him getting very close. Just six of his twelve pitches went for strikes, he generated no whiffs, and sat just 92.7 on his fastball. It seems to me that A.J. Puk and Dylan Floro have the main saves shares with an outside shot that Tanner Scott works his way in there as well.
COL 1 – SDP 3
- The Rockies needed just two innings from Brent Suter to close out this one. He’s several steps away from fantasy relevance.
- Luis Garcia took the 8th for his first hold of the season and Josh Hader shut down the 9th for his first save of the season. Both looked dominant despite some reduced velocity and represent a clear top two in the Padres bullpen.
ARI 2 – LAD 1
- Andrew Chafin picked up the win and Scott McGough earned his first career save in LA on Sunday. The D’backs only used both for two outs, so they seem to be very willing to play the matchups even if it means making mid-inning pitching changes in the 9th. Miguel Castro also looked impressive in this one and could also factor into the saves discussion at some point in the year. This is likely a situation where no one pitcher will get 50% of the saves share.
- Brusdar Graterol made his season debut and took the loss allowing a run on four hits in the top of the 9th. It was a rough outing for Graterol, but he’s clearly one of the top options for high-leverage situations and was used in the top of the 9th in a tie ball game, a spot typically reserved for your highest leverage option. Despite the rough outing, this usage tells me that Graterol has the best chance to be this team’s top option for saves for now given that Evan Phillips was used in the 8th. However, that doesn’t mean he has the majority share nor does it mean he will hold his share if he keeps performing like this.
CLE 6 – SEA 5 (F/10)
- With Emmanuel Clase not quite ready to work three days in a row, the Guardians used Enyel de los Santos in the 9th and Trevor Stephan in the 10th with the former picking up a win and the latter nabbing a save. Given James Karinchak’s propensity for wildness, Trevor Stephan may be the second-most trusted arm in this bullpen and may end up leading the team in holds at the end of the year.
- Seattle deployed Andrés Muñoz in the top of the 8th and Paul Sewald in the top of the 9th to keep the game tied and both delivered scoreless innings. While Munoz got the first save of the season, this usage tells me that we’re pretty close to a 50/50 split in terms of saves given Sewald’s usage in the 9th inning. Both are looking solid and are likely to be fantasy assets the rest of the way.
Bullpen Depth Charts
Also, if you’re looking for a detailed list or ranking of RPs, check out Rick Graham’s weekly pieces:
The Hold Up: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday
Closing Time: Ranking the Top 30 Closers
Top 100 Relievers for Save+Hold Leagues
(Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)
Munoz got the 8th inning because CLE had their 4, 5, and 6 hitters going. That gave Sewald their 7, 8, and 9 hitters in the 9th. To me, that says Munoz got the higher leverage inning. I wouldn’t say that Sewald getting the 9th means anything for saves when they specifically went Munoz when it mattered.